Silchar, Nov 22 : Six persons, including a forest guard, were killed in violence at the disputed Assam-Meghalaya border in the early hours of Tuesday after a truck allegedly laden with illegally felled timber was intercepted by forest guards from Assam.
In a tweet tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam CM Himanta Sarma, Meghalaya’s Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, whose party is an ally of the BJP, complained that the Assam police and forest guards “entered Meghalaya and resorted to unprovoked firing”.
Assam Police officials however said the truck was intercepted in West Karbi Anglong district of the state by a state Forest department team and a mob from the Meghalaya side had later attacked the team of forest guards and policemen from the state, which led firing by the Assamese side to control the situation.
As the truck tried to flee, the forest guards fired at it and deflated a tyre.
The vehicle’s driver, the handyman and another person were then apprehended, though others managed to escape, West Karbi Anglong superintendent of police Imdad Ali said.
Police reinforcements were rushed to the spot when the forest guards contacted the Zirikending police station.
After the police reached the spot, a large number of people from Meghalaya armed with ‘daos’ (dagger) and other weapons gathered at the spot around 5 am, the officer said.
The mob gheraoed the forest guards and the police personnel demanding the immediate release of those arrested and attacked them which prompted the police to resort to firing to bring the situation under control, Ali said.
“A forest home guard and three persons of the Khasi community of Meghalaya were killed in the incident,” the SP said. (Death toll later increased to 6)
“The situation is under control now,” he said, adding that top officers of the district are rushing to the remote area.
Meanwhile, as a part of precautionary measures, vehicles such as goods carriers or passenger carriers of Assam and other states have been stopped to enter Meghalaya. “Those vehicles bearing Meghalaya number plates are only being allowed. This is only temporary” said Cachar SP Numal Mahatta on Tuesday after visiting Assam Meghalaya border.